My name is Adam Heath Avitable and I am fat.
On my birthday this year – January 26th, I turned 32. And I weighed 410 pounds.
My weight has always been an issue. In high school, it was the same old story as most fat guys you know. I was strong, I could eat anything, and I was unstoppable. In college, the freshman 15 was more like the freshman 40, and by the time I graduated at the age of 21, I was on my way to being obese.
Law school wasn’t much better. A sedentary lifestyle combined with a love for every delicious food that existed led to a steady increase in my weight. I met Amy and had a reason to try to lose weight. For her, I tried several different diets and they all failed. They all failed for one reason – I wasn’t doing it for myself. This meant that I’d cheat. And gain even more weight.
My third year of law school, I finally decided that Iasd wanted to lose weight FOR MYSELF. Doing nothing more than Weight Watchers, I stuck with it for four months and lost 40 pounds. I felt better, Amy was happier, and I could see a change coming. Unfortunately, though, that change was a move to Los Angeles where I worked 14 hours a day starting a company, ordering food in, eating some of the worst food I could possibly ever eat. A Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger with fries and a chocolate chip cookie from Carl’s Jr. was my breakfast. And that was the lowest calorie meal I’d eat all day.
I never weighed myself. I was too scared to see the reality of the situation, but I noticed in other ways. Getting a booth at a restaurant was a risky proposition because some restaurants had less room than others, so I’d always ask for a table. I wouldn’t go to Olive Garden because their chairs had arms on them that would make it uncomfortable. Going through turnstiles at theme parks became impossible and I had to ask the attendant to let me walk through the handicapped gate. Airplane seat belts were a joke. Every chair was assessed for sturdiness before I’d lower myself into it.
The worse things got, the more stressed I’d get. Combined with the stress of owning my own business and the fact that I am a stress eater, I’d just eat more and more. I could eat a small birthday cake in two days’ time. I would go to Burger King at 11:00 at night and get a Triple Whopper, a BK Double Stacker, Large Fry, and a Hershey’s Sundae Pie. I’d order an entire large pizza just for myself. And at night I would snore like a freight train, I would stop breathing for minutes at a time thanks to apnea and I’d eat Tums like they were candy to prevent the inevitable heartburn and acid reflux.
I knew that I wanted to lose weight. I knew that I wanted to take the stress off of my heart and my joints before it was too late. I just couldn’t do it. I poured everything I had into my business, and that meant leaving my health as the lowest possible priority. The chance of dying of a heart attack by 40 was very real. And I decided that I needed to stop making excuses, recognize my weaknesses, and ask for help.
In January of this year, I met with Dr. Stephen Levine of Coastal Bariatrics in Ormond Beach, Florida. Dr. Levine performs LAP-BAND surgery on obese patients throughout Central Florida. Simply put, the laparascopic band is a small silicone band placed at the top of your stomach that creates a small pouch. Since the nerves that tell your brain that you are full are located at the top of your stomach, when this pouch fills up with food, it sends a signal to your brain telling you that you are full, and you retain that feeling of being full for 4-5 hours afterwards. Since the pouch only holds about four ounces of food, you fill up quickly, significantly limiting your caloric intake, losing weight in a way similar to other surgical solutions without the risks inherent to those avenues.
Dr. Levine and I had a long discussion. He saw me as a viable candidate for the surgery, but before he was willing to schedule the surgery, I had to lose 5-10% of my weight first. So after my 32nd birthday, I weighed myself on a special scale that was designed for obese people weighing over 400 pounds, and started to lose.
From February 1st to March 1st, I had lost 30 pounds, alternating between achieving ketosis with no carbs and a liquid diet that was high in protein and low in calories. On March 2nd, my surgery was scheduled for March 25th. For the three weeks before my surgery, I was on an exclusively liquid diet, drinking high protein shakes and bottles of water four or five times a day, and that was it. And on the day of my surgery, I weighed in at 360 pounds – 50 pounds lost in less than 60 days.
The surgery was quick. I was home that afternoon and back to work the next morning. For the next few weeks, I was restricted to liquids, and then pureed foods, and then soft mushy foods, and finally real food.
Eating real food has some caveats, though. I weigh my food for most meals. Anything more than four ounces will come right back up. I have to chew my food 15-20 times per bite. Every meal should take me 15-20 minutes minimum. Certain foods will not go down properly and will make me choke or, even worse, vomit. My intake of soda has to be limited considerably. No more liquid calories. No more gulping food. My life, which has revolved around food and eating, has changed. My lifestyle has changed.
On my birthday this year – January 26th, I weighed 410 pounds.
Today, I weigh 310. I can sit in booths and go through turnstiles and walk around all day without getting short of breath. But I’m not done yet. By October, I plan on weighing 260. By December, 240. And by my 33rd birthday – January 26th, 2010, I plan on being at my goal weight of 225.
My name is Adam Heath Avitable and I am fat.